The days and weeks after welcoming a new baby into your home are like a dream. The sleep deprivation and round the clock feedings often mean that homemade meals are sparse and takeout becomes the norm. MealBaby is an online meal registry where family and friends can sign up to make and deliver meals to new parents. For loved ones who live too far away to deliver a homemade meal, the site offers up the opportunity to purchase gift cards to national chain restaurants as well as the opportunity to donate money to Feed The Children, a non-profit organization that provides food for hungry families around the world. If you're too busy to set up the registry on your own, friends can do so for you — which might make a fun addition to a baby shower!
You've spent years building a wardrobe that reflects your sense of style and complements your figure so when you find yourself pregnant, you want to maintain your prebump fashion status. What you don't want is to spend your hard-earned cash on clothes that will only fit you for a few months.
That's where InStyleBelly comes in. The online consignment shop features stylish designer maternity clothes at discount prices. Take a Diane von Furstenberg maternity wrap dress. A full-priced version of the dress is listed for $350 at A Pea in the Pod, while InStyleBelly has a gently used one for $90. For women looking for dresses for upcoming weddings, the site offers a decent selection of special-occasion pieces at prices that can't be beat for an item you will only wear once. And for those of you who invested in a few designer maternity duds throughout your nine-month journey, be sure to check out its consignor policies for selling your pieces — nothing like a little cash in your pocket during these crazy times.
Spending the afternoon at our local playground is something that most of us take for granted, but for some, the cherished gathering spots are the result of a community effort to create safe and enjoyable areas for lil ones to explore. KaBoom!, a national non-profit group based out of Washington, DC, believes that outdoor, unstructured play is beneficial to tots of all ages and works with communities to build playgrounds. Since 1995, KaBoom! has led more than 1,500 playground construction projects — built by all-volunteer forces on single-day builds. The organization has also provided training and grants to build an additional 2,000 playgrounds across the country.
With the goal of providing a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, KaBoom! offers the KaBoom! Playspace Finder, which allows you to enter, search, and rate play-spaces in your community. The free, searchable directory identifies playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields and ice rinks across the country, and allows visitors to add and rate play-spaces that are not yet listed.
With the Easter and Passover holidays less than a month away, many mamas are eyeing their calendars in anticipation of Spring breaks. Whether you are excited at the prospect of a break from your daily routine for one that involves beaches and Disney or if you are dreading the idea of hours of travel to your destination of choice, Little Jet Set will prepare you for the plane, train or car ride ahead with a selection of toys and games to make the trip a little easier.
The site, started by two former lawyers, categorizes products by age or toy type and features everything from Automoblox and lacing cards to magnetic puzzles and snugly animal blankets your lil one can cozy up to for a mid-trip nap. They even offer a selection of family-oriented games that will keep everyone in the car awake and in good spirits as you continue your marathon drive.
Having a baby is difficult for couples who have the physical support of their spouses in the room, but for thousands of women this isn't an option as their husbands are overseas serving in the US military. Operation Shower recognizes and honors mamas and mamas-to-be whose husbands are stationed abroad by providing them with baby showers to celebrate their pending arrivals.
Through the site, Operation Shower gathers baby goods donated by individuals or companies around the country. It then throws unit-wide showers, where groups of expectant moms each receive a surprise "shower in a box" filled with baby gear, skincare products for moms and babies, baby clothing, shoes, and room decor products. Each box is then packed with festive paper and ribbons.
My five-year-old daughter thinks typing on my BlackBerry while in line at the store is a treat. She is no different than the other children of the world that delight in learning new things or testing out electronics — except for the fact that she has access to them on a daily basis. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is an organization that puts educational tools into the hands of youngsters that need them from little girls in Afghanistan to poverty stricken elementary school students in Alabama. The Massachusetts nonprofit is committed to distributing durable, $199 solar-powered "XO laptops" to financially disadvantaged children. Check out their site for ways to contribute to this timely cause.
The economy has made life particularly hard for parents. Finding entertaining and fulfilling family and budget-friendly activities is a daily challenge, which is why I was instantly intrigued by this Where Do Kids Eat Free Today? site.
The search tool is ideal for anyone trying to save on meals out, offering a list of restaurants in your area (or within the zip code you suggest) where kids eat for free or at a discounted price. I tested it for my area and found about about five restaurants — not counting chains — that offer cheap or free vittles for tots.
It's not easy or cheap keeping children amused. They hoot and holler for a toy or DVD when you're standing at the check out, but realize they prefer their ratty teddy bear and binky the moment you get in the car. The economy has so many of us tightening our spending budgets and seeking simple ways to save on everyday expenses so there's little room for whim purchases. I've put together some of my favorite toy sharing and media services that will keep your child (and her fickle taste) content and your wallet a little bit fuller.
If you've ever spent hours pouring over baby name books, get ready to clear your calendar for the next few days. BabyNameWizard.com, the online sibling of the best-selling Baby Name Wizard book, provides visitors with access to three of the author's computer models to help find the perfect name for your lil one. Through Namipedia, you can discover a favorite name's meaning, popularity and origins. The NameVoyager allows you to determine the popularity of names beginning with specific letters over the past 120 years, while the NameMapper tracks the popularity of a specific name in each state over the past 60 years. I've found myself plugging in every name I know, just to see what pops up. Don't say we didn't warn you, this site is addictive!
Described as a "concierge for your cell," the site helps moms and dads find child-friendly restaurants, toy stores, kids clothing stores, diaper-changing stations (can I get an amen!) and playgrounds from your computer or web enabled cell phone.
The results are based on the user's current location, neighborhood or city. I tested the site for diaper changing locations in one of my favorite San Francisco neighborhoods and received directions to a nearby public library, mall and a handful of low key restaurants. The service only works in New York and San Francisco right now, but Los Angeles, Chicago and other areas are coming soon. I suspect it will be a hit with mobile parents living in metropolitan areas and geek does too!